To let a quiet man be

The man seated in the deli was motionless. There was no plate or cup before him, nor newspaper nor wallet. His head was bowed. I went round with my broom and pan to glance from the corner of my eye, pretending to sweep crumbs. Yes, he is asleep. Sleeping in the deli after sunset on St. Patrick’s Day. I should tell a manager, I suppose, and do: “There’s a man sleeping in the deli.”

I expect action but she says, “Oh yes… he’s been there since six, I think.” She blinks. “He doesn’t seem to be drunk and he isn’t noisy, so we will let him stay.”

I am glad and tell her. How hard was that? How hard to let a quiet man sleep, here in a place of commerce on a night known for wildness? So easy. An easy kindness. Why not? Who would be hurt? Yet so few I know would let him be.

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